Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins
Scholastic Press, August 2010
ISBN 9780439023511

At seventeen, Katniss has survived the arena twice and has become the reluctant rallying point of rebellion.   Now living in District 13 since the Capitol destroyed her District 12 homeland, she acknowledges the refuge but can’t be entirely grateful.   Her best friend, Gale, and her sister and mother have also survived the destruction but she has no idea whether the captured Peeta is alive or dead and so many more have been lost.

The rebel side wants much more from her—they want her to be the actual face, the embodiment of the revolution, the Mockingjay.    All Katniss wants to do is to run away, to escape the terrible memories, but she is caught by the question of Peeta.  As long as he might still be alive, she doesn’t really have a choice.  And so it begins.

Her training for war does not go smoothly and, along the way, there are many reasons for Katniss to abandon her apparent destiny.  One goal keeps her focused—the chance to kill President Snow, the man she holds responsible for all the tragedy in her young life.  This will carry her, and her companions, through events no teenager should have to face.  That’s the point, though, isn’t it, that young people are the ones who lose the most in times of war and rebellion.

With the first two books of the trilogy, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins raised the bar incredibly high for young adult science fiction, and readers of adult science fiction have been just as captivated by Katniss and the horror of the Hunger Games.  This third and final book does not disappoint in any way and, for this reader, the long wait was well worth it.  There were any number of directions the author could have taken with the ending of Katniss’s story but she did not take an easy way.  Some of the events in Mockingjay are shattering and unexpected but, having read it, I have to say I think this is what had to happen.

Ms. Collins brings her secondary characters, even a cat, to life every bit as much as the central figures and  there is much sadness as well as joy in their stories.  Katniss, Gale and Peeta are heroic and tragic and, until the very end, the reader can not be sure how, or even whether, their feelings for each other will be resolved.  As a side note, I must also say that, while I normally detest first person present tense, it works for this trilogy, enhancing the excitement and intensity as no other point of view could do.

Mockingjay will be in my Top 5  for 2010; it’s the first time this year I have cut off the phone and TV and computer and stayed up all night to finish a book, and the entire trilogy is among my favorite series of all time.  I cannot recommend it highly enough for young adult and adult readers.  It is a shining example of how good science fiction can be but it also has strong elements of mystery and fantasy.  In a word, WOW.

P.S.  Now, I’m going to listen to the audio book—Carolyn McCormick has been an outstanding reader of the first two books and I expect no less in this one.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2010.

One thought on “Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

  1. It’s really interesting to go back and read reviews of the book from the time it was published, before it took off to the extent it now has. Being pretty late on the boat, I’ve just finished the series and had some mixed series. I personally found Mockingjay the low point and was disappointed with it as a conclusion to the trilogy. This probably affected my opinion of the series as a whole, and that’s a pity.

    Thanks for the review.

    My review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins


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